Summit County Council reaffirms commitment to addressing climate change | ParkRecord.com

Summit County Council reaffirms commitment to addressing climate change

Joins other communities in denouncing United States’ withdraw from Paris Climate Accord

Judd Werner recently approached Summit County Council members urging them to consider passing a resolution reaffirming their commitment to environmental stewardship in the county, while acknowledging the global nature of the matter.

Werner, who lives in the Snyderville Basin and leads the local chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, said a resolution from the County Council could be leveraged within the state and at the federal level to encourage further measures. He said he was disappointed when President Trump decided withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord and hoped local leaders would take action.

"It takes courage in our local political climate for these people to do something like this," he said.

Werner was in the audience on Wednesday when the County Council unanimously approved a resolution acknowledging the county's commitment to addressing climate change. He later commended the council on their decision.

"I just wanted to assure you that within the Citizens' Climate Lobby we have a small army who will leverage your resolution and try and expand your influence," Werner testified.

The resolution recognizes the "devastating effects" the long-term consequences of climate change could have on "agriculture, tourist and recreation-based economy, and quality of life, such as increased heat, prolonged drought, destructive wildfires, increased flooding, reduced stream flow, and shorter snow seasons."

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"In the absence of leadership from the President and at the federal level, it is imperative that measures be taken locally to reduce consumption and usage of fossil fuels and to transition to alternative fuel sources as a way to mitigate and stop further and ongoing damage to our community and the Earth," the resolution reads.

Summit County adopted a county-wide climate action plan in July 2015 that outlines ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The plan describes strategies for achieving those goals, such as encouraging developers to adopt green building practices and exploring alternative modes of transportation. It includes goals to increase energy efficiency in county facilities, and reduce tailpipe emissions from the county's fleet of vehicles.

The county also adopted a sustainability plan in 2011 to reduce carbon emissions by 13 percent by 2013. That goal was not met during that timeframe. However, the county recommitted to meeting it by the end of 2014 and exceeded the goal by 7 percent, according to the climate action plan.

County Council member Glenn Wright said it is important for the local leaders to recognize the important role the climate plays in the future viability of the county. While campaigning, Wright often spoke of the needs to address energy consumption and the effect it has on mountain communities.

Environmental activists, such as Wright, have long recognized the threat a warming planet would have on the economies of resort towns.

"As we stand right now, if we don't do something about it and continue to conduct business as usual, the trends show that Summit County will be snow free by the end of the century," Wright said. "It is incredibly important to have a resolution showing our resolve to battle climate change on a local level when some of our national leaders have rejected that philosophy."

When the United States withdrew from the Paris Accord, which is an agreement among 197 countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, communities across the country vowed to continue pursuing their own sustainability goals, including Park City.

Werner confidently said the County Council's resolution will "gain critical mass." He added, "It represents an extraordinary manifestation of leadership."

"What I think we will see a few years down the road is just how much an action like this represents our leadership from an economic perspective," Werner said.